The Good Parish Management Guide: How to revive your parish

by
02 November 2006

Canterbury Press 12.99 (1-85311-672-6); Church Times Booksho11.70

Roll your sleeves up, and get down to it: John Kiddle on a book full opractical advice on managing a parish<>
IAN SMITH'S book is a helpful introduction to many aspects of the dynamicof parish life. Its target audience would seem to be lay people who have fairly high degree of involvement in a parish, or who are considering becominmore involved.
 
It's a short book (150 pages), and it seeks tcover a wide range of subjects. These range from bricks, mortar, and assets tdeveloping faith and worship; from counting and accounting to resolvinconflict; from people and groups to needs, vision, and purpose. Each of thessubjects might merit its own book. Ian Smith is able only to scratch thsurface of most of them; and yet his scratch is intelligent and helpful
 
Smith's business background makes for a refreshing take on what are perhapfamiliar areas of parish life. For example, his 12 styles of meetings, togethewith seating plans, offer a practical and thought-ful insight into the dynamicof groups in the parish.
 
The first four chapters form probably thmost helpful section, offering tools to enable you to take an honest look ayour parish. This includes a thoughtful but some-what brief description of aaudit.
 
The next chapters give some excellent insights into aspectof parish management. It is good, practical stuff, but Smith's challenginpassion for what he calls "Christ-centred management" is also strongly evidentThe chapter towards the end on resolving conflict is a little gem; but, againrather short
 
The Good Parish Management Guide is a new title in CanterburPress 's series Serving the Church, which aims "to help lay people play greater part in the life of the Church". This new addition to the series servethat purpose well. The series editors, Kathleen and Michael Walsh, hope thathe books will give "practical details of fulfilling a ministry within thChurch", and also "develop a deeper, more spiritual understanding of thfaith". Ian Smith has addressed both these aims but not in greadepth.
 
This book deserves a wide readership. It is accessiblewell informed, and thoughtful. It is, however, more of an introduction than comprehensive guide. It would be an ideal book for a small group activelinvolved in parish life, or a PCC, to read and discuss over the course oseveral weeks. In that context, it would bear much fruit, and might jusachieve its aim of helping to revive your parish.

Canon Kiddle iVicar of St Luke's, Watford

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